Mental Health Awareness Month: Supporting the military community

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We live in difficult times. With economic difficulties at home and uncertainties about world stability, we all feel the stress of life every day. As part of the national observance of Mental Health Awareness Month, the Military Health System (MHS) encourages you and your loved ones to live well by taking advantage of tools and resources inside and outside MHS.

Mental health, or psychological health, encompasses the well-being of mind, body and spirit and contributes to overall health and resilience. Throughout the military community, additional stressors placed on individuals and families adds to the importance of maintaining awareness of internal and external demands on health and of the many resources available to support psychological health.

Military life, especially deployments or mobilizations, can present challenges to service members and their families that are both unique and difficult. Some are manageable, some are not. Many times, we can successfully deal with them on our own. In some instances, matters may get worse and one problem can trigger other more serious issues. At such times, it is wise to check things out and see what is really happening

One way of maintaining good mental health is to observe basic physical and psychological needs such as:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Eating right and exercising
  • Taking care of basic physical and emotional needs
  • Staying connected socially
  • Stopping to assess how things are going in life
  • Managing the stressors in life

Some signs of distress could include:

  • Drinking more heavily than normal
  • Agitation or anger
  • Withdrawing from families and friends
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sadness or depression

Many of these areas seem like common sense, but when faced with challenging life situations these things are often the first things that are neglected. When psychological health is neglected and mental health concerns arise, it is natural to deny there’s anything wrong. Sometimes the last person to recognize symptoms is the one who needs help, so it’s important to recognize symptoms in friends, loved ones or oneself and to say something.

Some other factors that affect mental health may be:

Anxiety
Individuals living with anxiety live in a world of “what if?” It’s often a world of hyper-vigilance and worst case scenarios.

Life Stress
Stress comes in two varieties: Good stress and bad stress. Life stress involves all mental burdens that affect an individual.

Sexual Trauma
Sexual trauma is any sexual activity where someone is involved against his or her will — may have been pressured into sexual activities, may have been unable to consent to sexual activities (for example, when intoxicated), or may have been physically forced into sexual activities.

Spirituality
Different factors can challenge individuals’ long held beliefs. In the face of difficulty, many, often for the first time, will give serious consideration to spiritual concerns. Still others find their life experiences strengthen their belief system, whether it has a spiritual component or not.

Work Adjustment
Work environments and requirements vary significantly. Praiseworthy skills in one occupation may be useful there but counterproductive elsewhere.

Resources across the MHS and Its Partners
The following is a list of some programs that the Military Health System and its partners provide to support the mental well-being of service members, veterans, retirees and their families.

  • DoD Real Warriors, Real Battles – If immediate mental health help is needed there is a 24/7 Crisis Help center available at www.realwarriors.net/livechat
  • AfterDeployment.org – Provides information and assessment tools to help understand depression and anxiety, as well as treatment options and a wealth of coping strategies. www.afterdeployment.org/topics-anxiety
  • Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center – The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) is a part of MHS. Specifically, it is the TBI operational component of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE). www.dvbic.org
  • Force Health Protection and Readiness – Includes research on mental health issues through DeployMED ResearchLink. http://fhp.osd.mil
  • Army Behavioral Health – News and resources from Army Medicine. www.behavioralhealth.army.mil
  • Military OneSource – Whether its help with childcare, personal finances, emotional support during deployments, relocation information, or resources needed for special circumstances, Military OneSource is there for military personnel and their families. www.militaryonesource.com
  • Department of Veterans Affairs – The VA has a PTSD Coach mobile app that can be downloaded at www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/ptsdcoach.asp and access information and a Veterans Crisis Line at www.myhealth.va.gov
  • TRICARE – information on benefits and care are available at www.tricare.mil

 

Article source: Military Health System – www.health.mil/mentalhealth

 

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